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A Texas man who allegedly shot and killed a 9-year-old girl in 2019 is now on the lam after removing his ankle monitor shortly before he was about to go on trial, law enforcement officials in the Lone Star State say.
Tyrese Simmons, 23, stands accused of capital murder in the death of Brandoniya Bennett. The little girl died amidst “an ongoing feud” between Simmons, then an aspiring rapper, and another would-be hip-hop musician when Simmons fired his weapon at the wrong apartment, Dallas police allege, according to local ABC affiliate WFAA.
“It is believed that the suspect mistakenly fired at the wrong apartment unit after running around the building to the back of the apartment complex,” Simmons’ arrest warrant reportedly says.
According to Dallas County court records reviewed by Law&Crime, Simmons made several statements to the effect that he is “going to air this place out” during the course of the dispute — an apparent reference to using a gun to fire at someone. The defendant, along with co-defendant Davonte Benton, then allegedly went to the incorrect vantage point and “fired multiple gunshots.”
Gunfire was exchanged and the little girl known to her loved ones as “Niya” or “Niy-Niy” was shot in the head while sitting on a couch in her apartment in Old East Dallas.
She had just come from the kitchen to get a snack, The Dallas Morning News reports.
The bleeding child was reportedly carried away by two police officers, but she succumbed to injury at Baylor University Medical Center. Simmons turned himself in to police the next day.
At the time she died, the girl — whose grandmother called her “everybody’s chocolate drop” — had just gotten her nails done. Family members say she was excited to start the fourth grade, an upcoming chapter in her all-too-short life that she would never see.
“I looked down at the floor where my daughter sat holding her baby girl, her only baby girl, in a puddle of blood, because they stole her life,” Tonya Elder told WFAA in the days after the girl died.
Simmons, meanwhile, had been on house arrest since being granted bond in December 2019 — until, that is, around 2:30 a.m. on May 28.
That’s when a “tamper alert” was sounded, warning law enforcement in the area that something was wrong with the defendant’s ankle monitor, according to local Fox affiliate KDFW.
More Law&Crime coverage: Young brothers playing with kittens in their yard are murdered by man wearing ankle monitor from prior shooting, prosecutors say
The defendant’s trial was slated to begin Monday.
Benton and Simmons were both 19 at the time of the shooting. The other rapper who was the alleged source of their ire was only 17 years old. Benton was convicted on capital murder charges in little Brandoniya’s death last year and sentenced to 45 years in prison.
There is currently an active warrant out for Simmons’ arrest. All attempts to contact him have proved fruitless, law enforcement in Texas allege.
“Violent criminals should not be allowed the leniency of an ankle monitor,” Dallas police Chief Eddie García told the Morning News on Friday when asked about Simmons. “They do not work. Period.”
It is currently not a crime in Texas to cut off your ankle monitor – although that will change after new laws take effect in the state this September.
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